VideoHelp Forum

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Consider supporting us by disable your adblocker or Try ConvertXtoDVD and convert all your movies to DVD. Free trial ! :)
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 11 of 11
Thread
  1. Member Ansuer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    United States
    Search Comp PM
    About two years ago, after my brother mentioned to me he was going to buy a 250 disk DVD changer, I decided to build a Media Center.

    I thought to myself, why swap DVDís in an out and deal with menus when it can all be digital. No DVDís going bad, no kids scratching and drooling on them, no yellow dogís eating them. It seemed like the perfect solution!

    Well, itís been anything but perfect. I should know better, after almost two decades in the IT world, nothing is a easy as it sounds. Iím an engineer, architect, administrator, and heavy developer. Getting to today was no easy task. I am writing this chronicle as a reference for others, I made no guarantees of your own success but I hope this helps.

    My Primary Goal:
    Build a true Media Center, pictures, audio, video, etcÖ
    Remote Control to control everything
    Output to HDTV (using either DVI/HDMI or component)
    Smallest possible files with best possible quality (MPEG4)
    AC3 (Dolby Digital Encoding) left intact in files
    AC3 encoding sent directly out of SPDIF or Fiber to my receiver
    No AC3 decoding done by PC
    Sufficient Disk space to store and easily find all my DVD movies and shows.

    Secondary goal: use the Media Center as a DVR and perhaps HDDVR
    Ansuer - "try not... do... or do not... there is no try"
    Quote Quote  
  2. Member yoda313's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Animus
    Search Comp PM
    Try buying a windows media center edition pc. It will be configured specifically for multimedia. And it can be high def compatible with the right capture card.
    Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
    Quote Quote  
  3. Member Ansuer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    United States
    Search Comp PM
    The Chronicle of Media: (skip to the next post if you want the final solution)

    First, I found DVD Shrink. I personally feel this is the best freeware DVD tool out there. The few movies it has trouble with were due to the DVD drive hardware. Thankfully I usually have 4-6 different machines around with different readers. One of them can always get past the conversion errors. Sometimes ejecting the DVD, re-inserting, and restarting DVD Shrink gets around it. The two worst cases I got around by loading a program from SlySoft called AnyDVD, which masks things before the OS sees it. I tried several other tools, none are as easy to use as DVD Shrink for getting the vobs you want and nothing else.

    The basic process Iíve used since day one is to load the DVD, choose re-author, add the video you want, choose the Compression Settings tab, shut off everything but the one audio encoding you want and hit backup. Back the files up to whatever directory you want -without- creating the video and audio TS folders.

    Second, re-encoding the video. I wanted quality without quantity and MPEG4 is the best solution for that. The latest options are DivX, XviD (freeware DivX), lavc, and a few others. I stick with XviD since itís free and a lot of people use it.

    In order to encode from the DVD (VOB Ė which is MPEG2) format to XviD you must have the correct codecís loaded on your machine. Over time Iíve tried many different versions of XviD and other codecs, but in the end I think that the K Lite Codec Pack is the best option. Itís a collection of free, stable, codecís, including XviD. Take care when you install K Lite, one of the last options you can choose during the install will set everything to use Media Player classic, which gets on my nerves. You can uncheck this during the install to keep your current associations.

    I tried the following in order for encoding:
    FlaskMPEG Ė neat, but old and not well supported. I could never get the audio in sync.

    The tried and true method that works every time:
    DVD2AVI Ė Open the first vob, select the first vob from the list, save as a d2v project file. This file is a stub pointer back to the original vobs. Along with the d2v file will be the audio encoding file which will contain all the audio. For me it outputs an .ac3 file, the file name also contains audio rate and file starting offset (in milliseconds).
    VFAPI Ė Point this at the d2v file to create a stub AVI file for conversion.
    VirtualDub Ė Get the Smart De-interlace filter from by Donald Graft. Load it as a filter, uncheck the Compare color channels box and choose Cubic Interpolate. Finally, choose no audio, then I setup XviD settings, and save the file as an AVI. For XviD I personally use a Target Quanitizer between 2 and 5. 2 is better quality with bigger file, 5 is the reverse. What you will end up with is a nice AVI file with no audio.
    VirtualDubMod Ė I use this to mux the audio and video (humpty dumpty) back together again. Load the video file you just made, then choose Streams -> Stream List. Load in the AC3 file here. For audio rate of 448 I put 128 (ms for the interleave) in both auto load and the interleave. Enter the offset from the AC3 file name and uncheck the box to auto sync. Finally, save this new file (takes about 5 minutes) as an AVI and you are done! There are some more comprehensive guides to this process on the internet. I love this process but I consider it manually intensive and slow.

    Mencoder Ė the new, faster method (part of MPlayer, comes with it)
    I have to admit, mencoder is fabulous. Itís a command line utility, though there are some GUI wrappers for it. It runs on both Linux (I have a few Gentoo boxes) and Windows. Since Iím not too much concerned with space I can let it figure out everything on its own. The following command line gets me almost the same end product as the DVD2AVI->VirutalDub method above in about %25 of the overall encoding time:

    mencoder.exe ďvob file nameĒ -oac copy -ovc xvid -xvidencopts pass=1 -o ďoutput AVIĒ

    The important thing about Mencoder is to get all the vobís into one file. If you are on Linux you can use CAT to cat *.vob > mymoviewhatever.vob. If you are on windows you can get CAT as a part of the ďGNU utilities for Win32Ē.

    However, Iíve had some issues with Mencoder. First is the ďLine effectĒ. Itís a bunch of little horizontal black lines in different parts of the video. You can most often see it on peopleís faces. Some people call it blurriness, some say itís an interlacing issue. I havenít had this problem with pre8 version I downloaded recently. Next, the pixelating out during the moving. The CVS version I had would randomly pixelate out, making lots of huge boxes on the screen. Strange thing was that it was always in the same place of the movie. Latest version doesnít have this issue. Finally, the latest version canít make files over 1 or 1.1 gigs. If the Ėend- file I generate is over about 1.1 gigs, nothing will play it. Iíd be happy to go through the MPlayer bug reporting process if I had six weeks of free time. So, I had to give up on Mencoder too.

    Gordian Knot and AutoGK
    Gordian Knot is not for the timid. It is very complex, use at your own discretion, in the end it works well for me, but itís too much overall. AutoGK cuts all this down into a very simple interface. If you do need a little more complex options hit CTRL-F9. AutoGK is great but encoding VOBís always had a frame rate issue for me. Especially things like space ships going across black background looked like it cut down to %30 of the original frames. So, the ship ends up chunking, or shuddering, across the screen like a bad windshield wiper. This makes me anxious and hither to become ill. I could fix it by choosing CTRL-F9 and locking the frame rate but then the files are way too big. After asking some questions on the internet and only getting unhelpful replies from ego maniacs I gave up on AutoGK. Plus, some of my HD shows from my DVR didnít end up in the right resolution. If GK or AutoGK works for you, please, by all means use it. I salute the authors of these masterpieces.

    My final solution for encoding:
    VirtualDub-MPEG2
    Thatís right itís just a good old version of VirtualDub. However, it can load a vob and re-encode it directly. It always keeps in the audio in sync as well. Since I had Mencoder as a scheduled task I was able to use the following to setup VD-MPEG2 to do the same.

    First, I load up VirtualDub-MPEG2, load my filters, setup the compression (XviD), and choose Source Audio. At this point I could load a vob, choose Save as AVI and it would re-encode, mux, and save it. Instead, I save all these settings by choosing File -> Save Processing Settings. This will save all the nifty settings I just chose out to a .VCF file, my main one is called DVDShow.vcf, which Iíll show an example of below. I put the following in a batch file:

    VirtualDub.exe /c /s DVDShow.vcf /p ďInput VOB FileĒ,ĒOutput AVI FileĒ /r /x

    This will make VirtualDub-MPEG2 kick up, load the vob, re-encode it, mux it with the audio, and exit. For what I need, it does it and looks the -best-, though it is much slower than Mencoder.
    Ansuer - "try not... do... or do not... there is no try"
    Quote Quote  
  4. Member Ansuer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    United States
    Search Comp PM
    My final solution for the Media Center:
    Beyond Media and Beyond TV (I use it with a capture card as a DVR) with Firefly remote, all this from SnapStream media.
    Beyond Media is great. However, recommend if you are playing XviD files make sure you install the k-lite codec pack. If not, install XviD, then install the free DivX codec (in that order). For some reason BM likes playing XviD files best with the DivX decoder. If you are putting your DVDís onto the Media Center get the DVD Library plug-in off SnapSteamís mod forum, it is so great.
    The Firefly remote is cool, itís all RF so I can hide the receiver.
    As for an HDDVR, I know of no real HD capture cards. The only option is an Off The Air tuner. For now Iíll stick with my hacked satellite HDDVR.

    As for other media centers, I worked with Microsoftís Media Center 2005. With build-it-yourself hardware MC2005 is dysfunctional and decidedly unpleasant, plus it never works right with loaded codecís, etcÖ If you are a savy Linux user you can always use MythTV. I soo enjoy MythTV but if you want AC3 through SPDIF, different video and audio codecs, DVD library functions, and maybe a DVR, be prepared for many, many days of work getting this right with your hardware and build. Be brave but donít waste too much of your time. In the end, Beyond Media was cheap, easy, and just worked for me.
    Ansuer - "try not... do... or do not... there is no try"
    Quote Quote  
  5. Member yoda313's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Animus
    Search Comp PM
    Originally Posted by ansuer
    As for an HDDVR, I know of no real HD capture cards. The only option is an Off The Air tuner. For now Iíll stick with my hacked satellite HDDVR.
    ?????

    Have you checked out the fusion hdtv capture card series?? I have succesfully recorded many shows in full hdtv. I get 720p or 1080i with 5.1 if it was recorded that way. This is off the air since I don't have hd cable or hd satellite. But I'm sure they do have capture cards that work with them.

    Check out www.digitalconnection.com Thats where I bought my fusion card. Worth checking it out.

    EDIT - It's www.digitalconnection.com without an s. Sorry my mistake.
    Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
    Quote Quote  
  6. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    USA
    Search Comp PM
    I took a slightly different route. I looked into the Media Center software and decided I didn't quite need that level of complication. Media Center is made to come with a configured computer. It's a real pain to try to home build one.

    I just use XP Pro with the motherboard installed in a desktop case, a Antec Overture II. It has 3 hard drives, one for the OS and programs, one for intermediate edits and one for archiving the finished videos. Two DVD drives.

    It has a HDTV card and a video card that outputs component video to my video projector. The audio output is optical to the surround amplifier. It's also hooked to a video server in the other room over a gigabit LAN with 1.6TB of storage space.

    I keep it pretty simple. I have 2 DVD changers for DVDs. The rest of the videos I convert to Xvid with AC3 or H264 with the Aud-x codec. I use FairUse Wizard most of the time because it's easy. AutoGK may be better, but I like easy. I rip the DVDs with DVD Fab Decypter, then FairUse can do everything from there. I have a universal remote that runs the amplifier and the HDTV card, but I use a conventional keyboard, mouse and 15" LCD monitor most of the time to control the computer.

    For playback, I use VLC Media Player and Zoom Player. No WMP on my system. Both are configured to the video projector, so all I have to do is click on a video and it plays.

    The computer runs 24/7, so encoding is done whenever it's convenient to set it up. I use it for DVD Shrink and other programs, so that's another reason I didn't want to be locked into the Media Center setup.

    Anyway, I'm happy with it. It's always a 'work in progress', but it's a hobby.
    Quote Quote  
  7. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    USA
    Search Comp PM
    EDIT
    Quote Quote  
  8. Member Ansuer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    United States
    Search Comp PM
    Thanks for the info on the HD capture cards, I'll check them out!
    Ansuer - "try not... do... or do not... there is no try"
    Quote Quote  
  9. Look at Nero Digital(comes with Nero Recode),it's a propietary format(MPEG-4+AAC) but the result is impressive for such a small size.I use Nero Showtime on my HTPC and it will play anything..as long as you have the proper codecs installed.
    Quote Quote  
  10. Member Ansuer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    United States
    Search Comp PM
    [quote="yoda313"]
    Originally Posted by ansuer
    As for an HDDVR, I know of no real HD capture cards. The only option is an Off The Air tuner. For now Iíll stick with my hacked satellite HDDVR.
    ?????

    Have you checked out the fusion hdtv capture card series?? I have succesfully recorded many shows in full hdtv. I get 720p or 1080i with 5.1 if it was recorded that way. This is off the air since I don't have hd cable or hd satellite. But I'm sure they do have capture cards that work with them.



    yoda313, per my statement in the original article above, are the fusion cards capture cards, or just another HD OTA tuner? In order to replace my HDDVR I would need a full HD capture card (not a tuner), my sat reciever is the tuner and I control it through serial.
    Ansuer - "try not... do... or do not... there is no try"
    Quote Quote  
  11. Member yoda313's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Animus
    Search Comp PM
    Yes the fusion series (gold 3 t) can record the .tp stream. That contains the video and audio together. From there I can downconvert to dvd.
    Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
    Quote Quote  



Similar Threads